At some point I should attempt to articulate the questions that motivate me to do neuroscience. Presently, questions take the form of "what would it even mean for neuroscience to succeed?". We don't know. Another phrasing : "what form do you expect the answers from neuroscience to take?".
What would it mean for us to say we understood consciousness? We are looking for both a functional duplication, as well as a satisfying philosophical explanation. The "hard problem" of consciousness is not a problem from science, it is philosophy. For me, personally, statements like "existence of information is equivalent to experience of information" and "consciousness is a mathematical entity" assuage my doubt and scratch th surface of the hard problem, but these are more religious statements than scientific.
I think, fundamentally, what we want is a mathematical story. We want that story to say that there is something elegantly simple about consciousness, that we are some sort of standard algorithm that happens to have been implemented in neurons. Such a theory ( or is it philosophy ? ) in union with the minute details of the wiring of our impulses and emotions, can satisfactorily explain consciousness.
WeAlone editors* and readers : what would it mean for your respective fields to succeed ? Is this even a fair question to ask ? In general, is there a cohesive underlying goal that holds fields together, or are most fields loosely connected pursuits of very specific, very obscure problems, with no overarching goal ? Does society implicitly assume certain grand goals when funding and conducting scientific research : immortality, wealth, equality, space colonization, machine consciousness, or are we forced to concede that "science marches on blindly, without regard to the real welfare of the human race or to any other standard, obedient only to the psychological needs of the scientists and of the government officials and corporation executives who provide the funds for research."**
*editors feel free to respond with primary posts, since a lot of your post-length statements get buried in comment threads
**[quote from the undeniably insane Theodore Kaczynski's "Industrial Society and its Future" (I guess terrorists have intellectual property rights too?)]